Phony Funerals Staged To Cash Life Insurance Policies – US Attorney Report – US Law

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Two Los Angeles-area women who allegedly participated in a scheme to cash life insurance policies for fictitious individuals and stage funerals to create the appearance that the individuals had died have been arrested on federal fraud charges, United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Salvador Hernandez announced today.

FBI agents arrested Faye Shilling, 60, of Hawthorne, and Jean Crump, 67, of Los Angeles, Wednesday morning without incident. In an indictment returned by a federal grand jury last Friday, Shilling and Crump were charged with mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud insurance companies and lending companies out of more than $750,000. Two other defendants previously pleaded guilty in the fraud scheme that remains under investigation.

According to the indictment, Shilling, a phlebotomist, and Crump, an employee at a now-defunct Long Beach mortuary, defrauded multiple insurance companies over a three-year period by cashing life insurance policies for non-existent identities, whom they claimed had died. As part of the scheme, Shilling and Crump allegedly caused the preparation of bogus death certificates, purchased burial plots and staged phony funerals to lend credibility to the scheme. When staging the funerals, the women allegedly filled caskets with various materials to make it appear they contained actual corpses.

Shilling and Crump allegedly defrauded several lending companies that advance cash to cover funeral expenses in exchange for a portion of the decedent’s life insurance policy. Shilling, Crump and their accomplices allegedly filed false documents with the County of Los Angeles stating the remains of one man were cremated and scattered at sea, when in fact no corpse existed. The indictment further alleges that defendant Crump offered a medical doctor $50,000 to create records supporting the fake death certificate.

“This case demonstrates in shocking detail how far some white-collar criminals will go to facilitate their frauds,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are committed to bringing to justice anyone who engages in insurance fraud no matter how many shams or tricks they employ to cover their criminal activity.”

After being arrested yesterday morning, Shilling and Crump made their initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge in federal court in Los Angeles. Both defendants were freed last night on $10,000 bonds, and they were both ordered to return to court on Monday for arraignments.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Shilling and Crump are each charged with two counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud. If they are convicted of the five counts contained in the indictment, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 100 years in federal prison.

The case against Shilling and Crump is part of a continuing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office. The United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles is prosecuting this case.

CONTACT: Special Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Montero

Major Frauds Section

(213) 894-7395

Release No. 09-045

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